A small number of SMEs could be affected by the latest change to Google’s algorithm, after it rolled out its Speed Update to all users. It is not something that everyone needs to worry about, as it will only be the slowest sites on the internet that are affected.
Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan, of Google, said: “The Speed Update, as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
How to assess if your site is affected by the update
Google implemented the Speed Update in July, 2018, so if your website visits have dropped significantly since then, you may have seen your position in search penalised as a result. As ever, the search engine has not released specific metrics to find out for certain, so it may take some detective work.
What it has said is that it uses a combination of methods to assess the speed of a webpage, with several tools representing good places to start. These include the Chrome User Experience report, as well as the Lighthouse and PageInsights features.
Has page speed been a ranking factor before?
Page speed has long been among the factors that Google takes into account, but it highlighted in 2010 that this was based on desktop searches only. After years of promising to extend the reach to mobile, this type of search will now be considered too.
How to improve mobile page speed on your site
To improve mobile page speed, it’s a good idea to look at several different contributing factors and make changes where you can. The first is elevating your server response time, which can be achieved through better web server software or configuration; the quality of web hosting; and the resources needed by your pages.
The second measure you can take is avoiding redirects, as these routes take up vital milliseconds, therefore slowing down the page. This issue is exacerbated on mobile, which often uses less reliable networks to meet requests.
Another way to circumvent speed problems is to ensure your website is loading above-the-fold content first. Even if the rest of the page isn’t yet available, users will get the impression that content is ready sooner and therefore their experience will be improved.
Lastly, migrating a website from HTTP to HTTPS has also been shown to reduce load time. In fact, Velocity, Load Impact and Mozilla have found that the improvements can be as much as 50 to 70 per cent, making it a no-brainer for SMEs wanting to make sure they’re not falling behind their competitors.
Analyse the speed of your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.
Is your site being affected by the Google Speed Update? For more information, advice and help, please get in touch us us here.